In late January, a Request for Proposals went out to all instructional faculty to join the Blended Learning Innovations in Pedagogy (BLIP) Initiative. After reading through many strong proposals, we (Center for Teaching & Learning and Academic Technologies) selected five brave faculty, teaching high enrollment courses, to conduct a complete course redesign. This redesign was focused on integrating technology in meaningful ways to improve student success, with an emphasis on inclusive practices.
In the BLIP program, faculty worked, one module at a time, to outline their course outcomes, decide how the use of technology could improve the student experience, and then detail the ways in which this technology could be seamlessly integrated into a face-to-face course. These processes included creating new syllabi, reimagining Canvas shells, creating and/or adopting open educational resources, and balancing coursework and assessments. Now, nearing the end of Spring, we’re proud to update the OSU community on how these efforts are going.
As a result of the BLIP Initiative, two courses have been reimagined as hybrid courses (defined as courses at Oregon State that blend regularly scheduled, face-to-face classroom meetings with significant online coursework and interaction that replace class meeting time).
Dr. Tracy Arras, Senior Instructor I in Civil and Construction Engineering, will be offering CCE 201 (GRAPHICS AND DESIGN) to about 120 students this fall in a hybrid format. By transitioning to a hybrid course, Dr. Arras hopes to give students the time and flexibility they need to master the learning materials before participating in team design projects in class.
Dr. Michael Boonstra, Senior Instructor in Art & Art History, will be offering a hybrid ART 101 (Introduction to the Visual Arts) to up to 350 students (in a single section!) this fall. Dr. Boonstra’s goal is to make student assignments more experiential by taking advantage of the great public art collection on campus at OSU. Dr. Boonstra is looking forward to clear and straightforward online lectures to accompany students’ appreciation of art.
Other courses, through the BLIP Initiative, are receiving a complete and innovative overhaul – the result of faculty members’ willingness to engage with new pedagogical ideas.
For example, Dr. Kim Halsey, Associate Professor in Microbiology, is tackling two major changes in MB 302 (General Microbiology, about 165 students enrolled each fall): (1) instruction in data analysis and interpretation and (2) students creating connections between microbiological concepts/vocabulary. Dr. Halsey is still deliberating over how to blend online and in-person learning for data analysis and interpretation, but has some great ideas about vocabulary. To overcome students’ common use of flashcards, which inherently creates static, abstract, and disconnected pieces of information, Dr. Halsey was inspired by Michael Boonstra’s use of a “visual glossary” in his ART courses. Her plan for MB 302 is for students to use lecture information, the text, and other resources to define, illustrate, or diagram, and connect and explain relationships between the vocabulary and concepts in the course. She hopes this will help students build a deeper understanding of how the concepts intersect with their experiences and knowledge of the natural world, biology, or applied systems.
Another example is Dr. Phil McFadden (Associate Professor in Biochemistry and Biophysics), who is innovating BB 450 (General Biochemistry, about 400 students enrolled each fall). Dr. McFadden sees the potential to maintain select teaching practices he implemented during the remote teaching of the COVID-19 era to increase accessibility, flexibility, and, ultimately, success of his students. By effectively aligning classroom lectures, online engagement, and online assessment, Dr. Fadden hopes to engage students more deeply and actively while getting the word out about the beauty and excitement of biochemistry.
Lastly, faculty involved in the BLIP Initiative report that the course redesign is both challenging and energizing. Dr. Rebecka Tumblin, Instructor in Physics, says this about her redesign of PH 211 (General Physics with Calculus, with three, 200-seat sections each fall):
“The course redesign has been a fun and exciting process and I have learned so much already! Currently, I am hyper focused on the accessibility of my course documents and canvas pages and the development of my online content. The biggest challenge I have faced so far has been smoothly integrating the online and face-to-face aspects of the course and making strong connections between the two. There is still much work to do but I feel confident that these changes will strengthen the course and allow a wider range of students to benefit from this blended curriculum.”
For my part, as the leader of the BLIP Initiative, I have immensely enjoyed working with these faculty members for so many reasons. Firstly, this has been an incredible opportunity to build relationships with folks outside my own department or college. Second, curating resources for the faculty has been fun – almost like teaching a new course! Last, and the most important, I have simply been absolutely inspired by the energy and enthusiasm these faculty have for improving their teaching and their course delivery and also for their students and subject matter.
Over the summer months, I will continue to work with faculty to refine their courses to be ready for Fall quarter. I’ll have the honor of attending their classes to see their work in action. I hope to interview both the faculty and students in each course to understand their perceptions of learning and engagement. Look for another update at the end of Fall term, if not sooner!
A huge thank you to the CTL, Office of Academic Affairs, Ecampus, and Academic Technologies for supporting myself and these five faculty members through the BLIP Initiative!
Dr. Raechel Soicher, Instructor in the School of Psychological Science, is the faculty leader of the Blended Learning Innovation in Pedagogy program. She leans on her instructional design training and her expertise in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning to help the BLIP faculty members redesign their courses.